Today would have been my grandmother’s 91st birthday. I still miss her terribly. This is one of the many ways I picture her: at her farmers market, the Santa Monica Market in California.
In my family, local, delicious food and farmers markets are generational. Before she moved to California, my grandmother would take us to visit farms and farm stands on Long Island, NY. My parents took us to the weekly Greenmarket in a parking lot near our apartment in Manhattan, and to Pike Place Market when we lived in Seattle in the summers (Pike Place was more of a farmers market back then).
For those of you raising families or mentoring kids, bringing them to a farmers market doesn’t just make them more interested in healthy and sustainable food now, it plants seeds for their future interests and values. You don’t have to have your own generational history of a farmers market routine to enjoy building one. But when you bring kids with you, they grow up thinking of it as a tradition, the way food shopping simply is.
I have many of my grandmother’s small market-going habits. Aiming for favorite vendors who may run out of something delicious, and who we know have the best potatoes or raspberries. Talking to farmers and knowing many of them personally after years of going to the same market. Giving unsolicited recipe advice to someone wondering aloud how to use a vegetable with which they’re unfamiliar, or reassuring them that the strange-looking lemon cucumber is totally worth adding to their salad.
It feels trite to say I feel my grandmother with me at farmers markets (and in my kitchen and in flower gardens and on sailboats…) but a piece of her is there. She shaped how I experience them, as did my parents. I hope I can return and continue the favor.